|Arthur Markham, with what probably wasn't a very|
typical bike even in 1868
The race was the beginning of a long association between cycling and the park surrounding the reservoir, which as a result became home to one of Britain's first cycle race tracks. Today, it's overgrown and almost forgotten, though it can just be made out from the air at the northern end of the reservoir, and cycling is banned almost everywhere within the park.
Born in Tølløse, Denmark on this day in 1974, Michael Rasmussen rose to fame in 1999 when he won the World Cross Country Mountain Biking Championships, then for abandoning mountain biking in favour of road racing, then for his two Tour de France King of the Mountains victories, then for being kicked out of the 2007 Tour by his own team due to irregularities concerning the details of his whereabouts supplied to anti-doping officials and finally for the two-year ban he received as a result. His decision to resort to doping was unfortunate both for cycling and for him, because he would undoubtedly have remained a great talent had he have ridden clean.
Rasmussen was at the centre of a famous and much retold controversy dating from 2002, the year mountain biker Whitney Richards claims Rasmussen asked him to take a box containing his favourite cycling shoes through customs and deliver them to an Italian training bases. Richards says he became suspicious and opened the box, finding within it numerous doses of Hemopure - a bovine haemoglobin-based oxygen carrier, at that time approved only for veterinary use in Europe and, since no test had been developed to detect it, of very obvious interest to those athletes willing to resort to doping. Richards also says that he destroyed the drug and that Rasmussen was angry when he found out, asking "Have you any idea how much that shit cost?" Whether the incident really happened has never been proved nor disproved.
Alfred Robert Engers, born in Southgate on this day in 1940, won numerous time trial titles from the late 1950s through to the late 1970s and set several world records - including being the first man to complete 25 miles (40km) on road in under fifty minutes.
His reputation as a trouble-maker would prove problematic - after spending two years as an independent (which permitted him to enter both amateur and professional races), he applied to British Cycling and the Road Time Trials Council for amateur status (ex-professionals were not allowed to compete against amateurs even after retirement, meaning that their racing days were effectively over when they could no longer remain competitive in the professional classes - a factor that seriously limited the number of professional cyclists Britain produced until the rule was eventually repealed); both would refuse for the next seven years. He stuck it out, finding a sponsor in bike shop Ted Gerrard (the first bike shop offer a mail order service), winning races and setting record times, until he was finally granted an amateur licence in 1968. Over the next ten years, during which he became the most respected rider in British time trialing, he would clash with organising bodies time and time again with most rows caused by his tendency to read rule books and form conclusions that varied considerably from theirs regarding what was and was not permitted in races. Nevertheless, his was a talent too great for them to push him out of racing - his 1978 25-mile record, the fifth he set for the distance - stood until 1990, and he was National 25-mile TT Champion six times.
Engers was added to the Golden Book of Cycling in 1991. He still competes in triathlons, but now spends more of his time fishing.
Born in Italy on this day in 1945, Marino Basso was one of the most respected sprinters in professional cycling during the 1970s and won a total of 15 stages in his thirteen Giri d'Italia, six in a single edition of the Vuelta a Espana (1975) and six in his four Tours de France. He won the Giro' Points competition in 1971 and became World Road Race Champion in 1972.
Sylvester Howard Roper
When he attempted to compete a flying mile (and recorded an average speed of 64kph), he got into difficulties and crashed, dying instantly from a head wound. A post mortem also discovered that he had suffered a heart attack, though it was not known if the heart attack caused or a result of the crash. His Steam Velocipede, built in 1867, is widely considered to be the world's first motorcycle.
The 1st of June is, it seems, a good day to aim for if you happen to be Swedish and hope that your offspring will become professional cyclists: Erik Bjurberg (1895, died 1976), Erik Bohlin (1897, died 1977) and Roger Persson (1974, still alive) were all born on this day.
On this day in 2011, just four months after a self-administered blood transfusion nearly killed him, it was reported in the press that Riccardo Ricco was about to sign a contract with the Meridiana-Kamen team and would ride for them at the Tour of Serbia - despite his previous claims to have given up cycling for good. Ten days later, he was formally suspended from competition by the Italian Olympic Committee and ten days after that he was banned from professional cycling for twelve years.
Other births: Mevlüt Bora (Turkey, 1947); Constantin Kabemba (Congo, 1943); Stoyan Georgiev Demirev (Bulgaria, 1932); Erin Hartwell (USA, 1969); Jozef Simons (Belgium, 1952); Kim Jung-Mo (South Korea, 1974); Daniel Butler (USA, 1944).